Sole Mending

Images via LeatherSpa

On the heels of my Building a Wardrobe post on shoes (pun intended), I thought it would be appropriate to post on my recent shoe repair experience.  Don’t worry, I plan to continue my Building a Wardrobe series with an upcoming post on Essential Accessories.

Last week, I picked up my black Christian Louboutin pumps at the West 55th and 5th location of LeatherSpa (The other locations are at Grand Central Terminal and The Plaza.), after finally dropping them off for heel and sole repair.  The shoes had been sidelined in my closet for an embarassingly long number of months.  LeatherSpa is one of two shoe repair services recommended by Christian Louboutin.  I’m certainly no stranger to shoe repair services, but this was my first experience with LeatherSpa.  When I dropped off my shoes for repair, I was offered two options for repairing the partially scuffed signature red soles.  I wish I had taken before and after pictures, but alas, I didn’t.  Check out LeatherSpa’s website for their Before and After examples.  LeatherSpa presented me with two sole repair options: 

1. Have the red soles repainted.  This is the most expensive option and of course will restore the shoe to its original appearance. 

2. Have the red sole partially covered with a durable protective sole cover. 

It wasn’t an easy decision for me, and even though painting the soles is more expensive and not as long lasting as the protective sole, I chose to have the soles painted.

When I picked up my Louboutins, after receiving an email notification that my shoes were ready, the soles were partially covered with protective material!  I showed the sales associate the receipt stating that the soles were to be painted.  She agreed that the soles were supposed to be painted and not covered.  At first I thought I would have LeatherSpa remove the protective cover and repaint the soles, but the thought of having to make another trip to LeatherSpa to pick up the shoes made the idea seem less desirable.  So I told the sales associate that I would just take the shoes as they were, so long as I had the option in the future to have the cover removed and the soles repainted.  She said that this would be possible.  A man neatly dressed in what appeared to be an Italian button down shirt and pants appeared.  He apologized for the mistake, admitted that he did not like the way that things were done, and told me that my repairs would be 50% off.  I appreciated how apologetic the employees were at LeatherSpa and the 50% discount for the mistake.  Instead of my repairs costing $84, they ended up costing $42, even though the mistake did not affect my entire repair bill.  I left the store with my shoes inside one of LeatherSpa’s brown and orange cloth bags with the LeatherSpa insignia printed on it.

In addition to the fine customer service I experienced at LeatherSpa, I couldn’t help but notice that it was a finely run operation.  I’m accustomed to the standard NYC shoe repair store:  a place dingy with shoe polish, overflowing with shoes that are sometimes contained in grocery store plastic bags, and manned intermittently by the same person who repairs the shoes.  At LeatherSpa, the appearance is pristine.  It looks more like a boutique than a shoe repair business.  The employees are dressed in crisp uniforms of brown polo shirts and black pants and the shoes, which are repaired at a separate repair facility, are stored out of sight.  I wouldn’t use LeatherSpa for every pair of shoes I own, as I believe their prices tend to be higher than the norm.  I recommend finding an excellent local shoe repair shop.  Repairs can extend the life of your shoes and make your money go further.  I also hold this belief when it comes to handbags.  The piping is often the first place where a leather handbag will show wear and tear, and this area can be fixed easily by a quality shoe/leather repair shop.  When I picked up my shoes at LeatherSpa, I actually ran into a friend of mine who was having a handbag repaired.

For special items, such as Louboutins, or complicated repairs, I highly recommend the services at LeatherSpa.  Even if you don’t live in the NYC area, you can mail your items to LeatherSpa’s repair facility in Long Island City.

Do you have a good shoe repair place?  Have you tried LeatherSpa?  Any thoughts or experiences regarding the Louboutin sole repair dilemma?

End of the Week Inspiration

Yes, a second post in the same day, a record that may never repeat itself.

This week I found much to admire.  I didn’t realize until I was putting this post together that I’ve been particularly inspired by peach and turquoise hues this week.  Here are my picks!

This Alexander McQueen jacket is utterly fabulous!  I love pieces of clothing with an architectural quality to them.

Alexander McQueen jacket


Waffe cookies

Waffle cookies via the Kitchn.  Cookies in 90 seconds!

If I had a little girl, I’d shop for her at Little Edit, the baby girl counterpart to the uber chic NY women’s boutique, Edit.  Brands sold here include Baby Chloe, Marie Chantal, and Baby Maloles.

Caramel Baby

Caramel Baby & Child

Christina Murphy Interiors

I have long been enamored with booth seating in a home.  I especially love it when a custom booth is paired with a non-custom table and chairs, as shown here by Christina Murphy Interiors.  I adore the detailing and brass hardware on this booth.

I’m not a shorts person, but for some reason, this Lilly Pulitzer jacket and shorts ensemble looks fresh to my eyes.

Lilly outfit

Window of NY

I read about New York based graphic designer Jose Guizar’s Windows of New York project on escapade.  Each week, Jose Guizar illustrates a different window in New York City.  The artist says, “This project is part
an ode to architecture and part a self challenge to never stop looking
up.”  I love these illustrations and the reminder to notice small design details.  I’m also a fan of window watching; peering inside open windows, imagining the lives being lived inside.  Are you?

What has inspired you this week?



Build a Wardrobe from Scratch: For the Soles

I’m back with a roundup of shoe staples.  Again, I chose an almost all black shoe wardrobe, since black proves to be the most versatile color.

Black pumps



Christian Louboutin





Black Ballet Flats


Ferregamo flats

Salvatore Ferregamo

These classic shoes are at the top of my list.  I just need to find them in a narrow width!


Me Too flats

Me Too

I own these flats, which look even better in person.  They are super comfortable!

Black Riding Boots


Hermes boots


A pair of boots for my dream wardrobe.


Corso Como Rhia

Corso Como

As I’ve already mentioned, I adore this brand’s boots.

Rain boots


Gucci rain boots



Sperry bootSperry

I own and love these rain boots.  I found them after discovering that Hunter wellies are too wide for my feet.

Flat Sandals


Gucci sandal



Lauren by Ralph Lauren

Lauren by Ralph Lauren

Metallic shoes are even more versatile than black; in a sandal, metallic provides just the right amount of glitz without being too flashy.

The total for each category?  $4300 for the Luxe items and $418.88 for the Less items.  Once again, the “Less” items cost approximately one tenth less than the “Luxe” items.  I swear I’m not doing this on purpose!

What do you think of my shoe staple selections?


Build a Wardrobe from Scratch: The Clothing Essentials

Recently, I asked myself the question of which items I would buy if I had to build a wardrobe from scratch.  I came up with under 30 clothing items, 5 pairs of shoes, and 10 staple accessories, with examples in both Luxe and Less budgeting categories.  Over the next few days I’ll be sharing these items with you.

Below are the clothing items that I picked.  You’ll notice that I chose a color scheme of mostly black, with some navy and white/khaki.  Buying a lot of black, of course, is a great way to ensure that your wardrobe contains items that are chic and interchangeable.  In order to extend wearability, I also suggest buying items in seasonless fabrics.

Black Pants


Theory black pant



AT Loft

Ann Taylor Loft

Dark skinny or bootcut jeans, depending on your preference


811 Mid-Rise Skinny Jeans - Ignite



Gap jeans


Little Black Dress


St. John LBD

St. John


Calvin Klein LBD

Calvin Klein

A sleeveless dress in a color (other than black) that can be worn year round.





Amy Byer

Amy Byer

Black Pantsuit*


Kiton suit



BR Suit

Banana Republic


Black Skirt Suit*


Hugo Boss

Hugo Boss


T Tahari Skirt SuitT Tahari


White Shirt


RL White ShirtRalph Lauren


Brooks Brothers White Shirt

Brooks Brothers

I also find Banana Republic’s button down shirts to be extremely durable.


2+ Black Tees


James Perse

James Perse

This is the best tee if I have ever owned.  Several years later, and it still looks like new.


Target scoop


Target is one of my favorite sources for inexpensive tees.


Black Wool Coat


THe Row coat

The Row





Trench Coat


Burberry trenchBurberry


London Fog

London Fog

Ankle Length Pants


Theory pant



JCrew Minnie


These pants (in black and navy) are a staple in my wardrobe.

Summer Skirt





Mural skirt


5 Sleeveless Tops


Stella McCartney, Halston Heritage, Diane von Furstenberg, Marni, Lanvin.


Banana Republic, Mango, Aqua, Olive & Oak, Calvin Klein.

Crewneck Cardigan in Black






BR Anna cardigan

Banana Republic

Cozy Sweater


Barneys sweater



LL Bean

 L.L. Bean

Casual Black Blazer


Helmut Lang Cusp BlazerHelmut Lang




Navy Blazer


BB Blazer

Brooks Brothers


JCrew SchoolboyJCrew

This is one of my favorite pieces of clothing.

Khaki/White Pants


Vince Chino



JCrew Waverly chino


*With the exception of the 2 suits, I believe that this list of clothing will allow any one to be appropriately dressed for almost any occasion.  For those whose activities don’t regularly require a suit, I suggest swapping out the 2 suits for 2 outfits comprised of a top and pants.

This little exercise makes me wonder if I should have focused my 25 Things List on acquiring upgraded versions of each of the essentials on my list.  And, it has made me aware of my need for a navy sheath dress!

FYI, the total cost of all of the “Luxe” items is $18,219 and the total cost for the “Less” items is $1,884.95.  Keep in mind that I didn’t take into account additional discounts for which some of the “Less” items were eligible.  That means that the “Less” wardrobe is approximately one tenth of the cost of the Luxe wardrobe.  Adding up these costs definitely puts things in perspective.  Given an unlimited budget, I don’t believe that I would choose to buy the Luxe version each time, would you?  Of course, the old adage “You get what you pay for…” always applies; clothing made of higher quality fabric will last longer.  I believe that in some instances, buying the Luxe version is not just more stylish, but also more cost effective.  For example, a Burberry trench can be worn for years beyond its cheaper counterpart.

What do you think of my list?  Is there anything that you feel should be added or removed?  Which items do you believe are indispensable to building a wardrobe?  From which designers would you purchase Luxe items and which brands are your go-tos for looking stylish when spending Less?

End of the Week Inspiration

This pouch should have been on my last post, but alas, here it is.

NY Pouch

Pamelabarksyshop via Etsy.


These luscious cakes have been calling my name.  If only I had the domestic motivation to make one!

Cake 1

Vanilla Blackberry Marscapone cake from Sweetapolita.

SpecEgg cake

Speckled egg cake via The Cake Blog.


Parisian chic Moynat ads, spotted on Habitually Chic.  Take me back to Paris!

Moynat 1

Moynat 2


This Dior scarf has been popping up in several places.  It’s unique, chic, and fabulous!

Dior scarf

Image via Mark D. Sikes.


How Children

I just finished this book.  I read it to learn about what I can do as a parent to help Baby Boy succeed in life.  This book reiterates the importance of a mother’s nurturing at an early age and the value of character, specifically qualities like perseverance, curiosity, conscientiousness, optimism, and self-control.  Just as importantly, this book demonstrates that failure is often more valuable than success, something that I need to continue to remember in my adult life.  Although the book shared some insight that parents can apply while raising children, it was actually more of a crash course on the American education system.  I recommend this book if you want to learn more about the education crisis facing our country today.  Reading it left me with a desire to do something, even if it’s small, to help young children in our country who do not have the foundational advantage of growing up in a stable environment.

Stylish Stashing

Truffle 3

I read about Truffle, a maker of brilliant clear pouches that fit inside larger bags, on George & Ruby.  A pouch is somewhat distinct from a cosmetic bag and a clutch, though it could be used as either. I think these utilitarian chic Truffle pouches are just what I need to better organize my large black hole of a tote bag.

Here are some other fun options I found.  The may not be as transparent or practical as the pouches from Truffle, but they seem guaranteed to induce a smile:

Kate Spade Pop

Pop art pouch by Kate Spade.


A lovely motto.  Rebecca Minkoff.

Minkoff 2Oh so true.  Rebecca Minkoff.

Eat Cake

Kate Spade.

MJ Pouch

Marc by Marc Jacobs.

Karl pouch

Look closely:  it’s Karl!  His poses crack me up.  I’d love to have this!  KARL.

Do you carry a big bag?  If so, do you use pouches to stay organized?


On Scent

“Scent can do what all art does:  change the way we perceive the world.”

I jotted down this thought-provoking quote on Sunday while enjoying “The Art of Scent” exhibit at the Museum of Art and Design, which I managed to view before it closed.  I highly recommend reading about this innovative exhibit.  Scent is a topic that I find fascinating and would like to learn more about, but until Sunday, I didn’t think of scent as art.  I do now.   I’m grateful to The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin, a blog I’ve been reading for at least 6 years now, and one of my favorites, for alerting me to this exhibit.  Gretchen and I share a lot in common:  we’re both NYC mothers living uptown and trained attorneys who love to write.  She also shares my mini-obsession of taking notes on things that interest me, even if there is no apparent purpose.  Gretchen is likewise fascinated by the subject of scent and has done some reading and research on the subject.  I’ve been wondering if and hoping that she’s writing a book about scent.

Art of Scent

Image via artinfo.

“The Art of Scent” showcased 12 revolutionary scents in the history of fragrance from the years 1889-2012.  Each perfume was displayed in a pod.  A visitor could place his/her face into a pod, after which a puff of the designated perfume rose to meet the visitor’s nose.  It was a novel and fun way to interact with art on display.  At the end of the exhibit, there were testing papers for sampling each of the perfumes in their liquid form.  A display of the step by step process of making the perfume Tresor enlightened me on how a perfume is created.   Like creating a painting, a perfumer begins to work with a canvas of sorts, his/her base, and  he/she builds on it from there.  The historical development of perfume also parallels the historical development of traditional art; early art was typically inspired by nature and many of the earlier perfumes also relied upon scents from nature.  As the modern art movement catapulted art beyond the natural and into the abstract realm, the creation of perfume too moved beyond use of natural ingredients to a reliance on synthetic ones.  The exhibit introduced me to some new scents that I hope to experience again:  Prada Amber, Jicky, Angel, Light Blue, Osmanthe Yunnan, and Tresor.  My more informed understanding of the creation of a perfume and my own personal reflections on the quote I shared above, caused me leave the exhibit with a greater appreciation for perfume as art.   I do believe that scent can change the way we perceive the world.

Like other works of art, scent is a topic that most people have strong opinions about.  A certain scent can transport one to another time and place.  I think that we often tie scent with self-identity and the memory of important people and places in our lives.


Image via Sephora.

My mother has been wearing the same perfume since I was born, and long before that, Guerlain’s Shalimar, perhaps the most loved fragrance by The House of Guerlain.  Shalimar, or “Temple of love” in Sanskrit, was inspired by the legendary love story between Emperor Shah Jahan and his wife Mumtaz Mahal, for whom he built the Taj Mahal.  Shalimar was named after Mumtaz’s favorite garden.

Shalimar is perhaps the most incredible scent I’ve ever encountered, and I don’t just say that because my mother wears it.  My mother has searched for a new perfume, something more “with it,” as she explains, and she has come close to purchasing somewhat similar perfumes such as Viktor & Rolf’s Flowerbomb, but she hasn’t.  I’m not disappointed.  Shalimar is the smell of my beloved mother.  I can’t imagine her wearing anything else.  And I can’t imagine wearing her scent, either.  It belongs to her.

Despite my refusal to wear the same perfume as my mother, I’ve always been drawn to perfumes similar to Shalimar.  Shalimar’s maker, Guerlain, is one of the oldest perfume houses in the world.  Guerlain created cologne for Napoleon III and his wife Empress Eugenie, as well as other European royalty.  A perfume created for Empress Eugenie, Eau de Cologne Imperiale, is still in regular production today.  My mother and I enjoyed visiting Guerlain on the Champs-Élysées on our trip to Paris a few months ago.


I particularly enjoyed the beautiful displays of large perfume bottles:


I recommend a visit to Guerlain’s website:  the virtual experience comes as close as possible to the actual one:  the display counter for exploring fragrances online is the exact image of the display counter at Guerlain on the Champs-Élysées!


So far, the best perfumes I’ve encountered have been made by Guerlain.  My opinion is at least partially attributable to my love for vanilla, an ingredient that many of Guerlain’s perfumes contain.

My scent history includes experience wearing Love’s Baby Soft in high school then Calvin Klein Obsession from high school through law school.  I still enjoy the smell of Obsession, which imparts a bit of spice and warmth.  I keep a couple of bottles of Obsession on my dresser, but I don’t feel that I identify with the scent as much anymore.  Sometime right after law school, I discovered Profumi di Firenze “Zenzero” at C.O. Bigelow, another vanilla concoction which my boyfriend at the time thought smelled like “cotton candy.”  I didn’t mind that.  Next I wore Jo Malone Vanilla & Anise for awhile.  I find it to be a simpler, yet clean fragrance.

In 2010, while viewing the Otto Dix exhibit at the Neue Gallerie, I was enchanted by the scent that filled one of the exhibit rooms.  I learned that it was Guerlain’s L’Heure Bleu.  I love the meaning behind the scent.  In French, L’Heure Bleu means the period of twilight each morning and evening where there is neither full daylight nor complete darkness.  It also can refer to Paris immediately prior to World War I, a time of relative innocence.  The perfume was created by Guerlain in 1912.  When I smelled the perfume, I knew that it wasn’t like anything I’d smelled before, and yet, I could grasp the nostalgia, almost melancholy, in it, and the mystery.  I felt like I’d found something special.  A couple of days after I gave birth to Baby Boy, my mother gifted me with a bottle.

L'Heure Bleu

Image via Sephora.

Some months after the birth of Baby Boy, while browsing perfumes at a department store with my mother, I discovered a new Guerlain perfume, “My Insolence.”  I find “My Insolence” to be an odd name for a perfume, but this scent has been my standby for the past couple of years.  It too has notes of vanilla, but the vanilla is complemented by other notes such as raspberry.

More recently, with the information available on Sephora and other websites, I have become interested in the descriptions of the notes in perfumes, which sound remarkably similar to descriptions of wines.  My Insolence, for instance, is partially described by Sephora as, ” Like its irreverent predecessor, Insolence, as a starting point, honors a fruit which Guerlain has never before revealed in this light: a deliciously rounded raspberry note, full of freshness. This gently gives way to the natural richness of almond blossom and the sensual, feminine charm of jasmine, which are at the heart of the fragrance. Finally, the scent curls up with a sigh of pleasure in a delicious cocoon of patchouli, vanilla, and tonka bean.”

Despite all of the descriptions of perfumes online, there is still no substitute for experiencing a fragrance in person.


Do you have a signature scent?  How have your olfactory preferences evolved?  Are there any particular scents that evoke strong memories for you?  Do you/would you wear the perfume of someone close to you?  Do you enjoy reading descriptions of perfumes like I do?


End of the Week Inspiration

1.  Makeup as Art

Images via We See Beauty

I’m not a makeup person.  I wear it but I don’t find it to be the most exciting topic.  When makeup is photographed this artfully, however, I find it captivating.  This makeup is from the We See Beauty’s makeup line, MAKE, which I first spotted on The Atelier.  The We See Beauty Foundation describes itself as a “non-profit organization dedicated to incubate and accelerate women-led, worker-owned cooperatives to drive large scale change.”  1/3 of sales from the We See Beauty shop, including MAKE products, go to support the We See Beauty Foundation.  Check out the We See shop, which offers a carefully curated selection of beauty items, accessories, print materials, films, and home goods.  We See Beauty is a fascinating organization with great aesthetic sensibility.

2.  Old School Ski and Lodge Vacations

Skiing 1

Amanda Brooks wrote about her skiing getaway to Samoens in the French Alps on I Love Your Style this week.  I adored the European ski lodge photos and the tales of igloo building.  The above photo from her blog reminds me of a Massimo Vitali photograph.  Speaking of Massimo Vitali, I also enjoyed his photographs of Brazil in the New York Times magazine this week.

Elements of Style posted on another relaxing getaway, The Point at Lake Saranac.  The photos below are from her blog.

The Point 1

The Point 2

Images via Elements of Style.

The Point is a destination that combines a love of the outdoors with gracious accomodations and traditions; Wednesday and Sunday night dinners at The Point require a tuxedo.  This sounds like my kind of place!

3.  Elsa Peretti

ElsaImage via Time.

I enjoyed reading about the career of Tiffany’s most famous jewelry designer, Elsa Peretti, in Time Style & Design.  For more photos of Elsa Peretti, including a few from her modeling career, visit Habitually Chic.

4.  Styling with Marble and Fresh flowers


Image via notetoself.

This vignette is just delicious.  I love the combination of the orange peonies and succulents with marble, a simple framed sketch by notetoself, and just a simple votive and some nail polish.  Sometimes elegance lies in the corners of a room.

After viewing this beautiful photograph by Alice Gao on notetoself, I stumbled upon the photographer’s visually compelling blog, Lingered Upon.  I love her tagline:  “Photos and Accumulations of Small Realities.”

5.  Neighborhood shopping & services

Shopping bags

Image via Travel Managers.

I love my neighborhood.  When one lives in a city of over 8 million, most of the people one encounters are strangers, but NYC still manages to impart a neighborhood feel.  After all, the city is a collection of neighborhoods.  One night last week, I ran a few errands after work (card shop, bakery, dry cleaner, and wine store, all within less than a few blocks of our apartment).  The man behind the counter at the bakery smiled like he knew me (this probably isn’t a good thing), the man at the dry cleaner did in fact call me by my first name (again, maybe not a good thing), and the owner of the wine store offered me and my husband tickets to a performance that evening (once again, this indicates that I might frequent the business too much; in truth, it was a rare, perhaps twice a year, stop for me).  Humor aside, my point is that even in a large city, we are not strangers in our neighborhood.  And, I appreciate that I can frequent small businesses that are not part of a larger chain and be recognized and valued as a customer.

6.  Perservering through Personal Challenges


Image via The Bronx High School of Science

I read about this boy, named Santiago, a few days ago in the free daily paper that I read on the subway each morning.  His story is part of a new photo exhibit at the UN that documents the journeys that children around the world take to school.  I was inspired by Santiago’s perserverance in the face of his personal challenges, especially how he takes his 2 hour commute to school in such stride, and recognizes that, compared to others, he is quite lucky.